Devon Gales returns to sidelines, joins football staff at Georgia high school

JACKSON COUNTY, Ga. — Almost four years after he suffered a terrifying injury, Devon Gales is returning to the sidelines.

Jefferson High School officials announced the former college football player will join the football staff as an assistant coach this year.

"I'm back in my element. I get to be around a sport that I really love. I get to coach it now, so it’s a whole different feeling," Gales said.

Channel 2's Tyisha Fernandes has been following Gales' incredible recovery since that September day in 2015.

The Southern University wide receiver suffered a paralyzing neck injury when he collided with UGA kicker Marshall Morgan during a kickoff return in Athens.

Gales has always dreamed of being on the field again as a coach. Someone he knew at Southern University mentioned to school officials how good of a coach Gales would be.

That's when Jefferson head coach Jean Cathcart called. Gales couldn't believe it was real.

“The coach was like, ‘How would you like to have a job?’ I need a job. I’ve been without a job for three years," he told Fernandes.


Cathcart told Fernandes Gales will have an immediate impact on the teens because his positive attitude is such an inspiration. But the coach wasn't sure if Gales would even want the job.

"His mom was like 'You know he misses the game, he misses practices, he misses games, he misses being around the camaraderie and eveything . So Coach Jackson said, 'Why don’t we get him involved?" Cathcart said.

Gales told Fernandes he’s beyond excited for this new venture.

“I’ve just been thinking I’m gonna be a coach. I’m really talking to kids, doing receivers and special teams. It’s just really a humbling experience and just teaching the kids what I know and what I’ve learned," he said.

Jefferson High School is not far from the home that is being built for Gales and his family. Fernandes attended a groundbreaking ceremony for it in August.

The house will give the family the chance to live together -- something they haven’t been able to do since Gales was paralyzed in 2015.